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Dartmoor prison inmates sing to Prince Charles

The Prince of Wales today watched inmates perform opera songs during his visit to Dartmoor Prison in Princetown, Devon.

Inmates performed songs from the classic French opera Carmen, and the hit musical Les Misérables, including fan favourite “Do You Hear the People Sing”.

Charles was welcomed to the category C prison by the facility’s governor, Bridie Oakes-Richards, and the Minister for Prisons and Probation, MP Rory Stewart.

The special performance was a result of the Prison Choir Project which aims to rehabilitate prisoners, ex-offenders and people with mental illnesses and reduce reoffending by building convict’s self-esteem through the medium of music.

Adam Green, a professional musician and the founder of the project, said it was a wonderful experience for the prisoners.

Discussing the prisoner’s talents, he said that: “they can really sing, they really can.

“I think they would stand up against any professional chorus.”

Green added that inmates had “thrown themselves headlong into this opportunity and I think bettered themselves through music”, saying it was a “huge honour” for the inmates to perform for Charles and show what the project was achieving in prisons.

He added: “It has been, for all, an extraordinary experience.”

The project has engaged with more than 400 prisoners and prison staff, including an opera in Dartmoor and further programmes in HMP Kirkham and HMP Drake Hall.

Kate Symons-Joy, who played Carmen in the performance, said she was keen to share what the inmates were doing and the effort they had put in.

She said: “They are all so committed.

“We are very privileged to be here with them, but they also I think, see it as a privilege that they are involved, and they take it very seriously and support each other.”

“It was quite amazing to watch actually”, she added.

Her co-star Clara Kanter, said Charles’ visit showed the prisoners that there were “really important people aware of them, listening to them (so they) feel like they matter”.

The prince also chatted to one of the inmates involved in the facility’s garden project. He asked the man whether he was a vegetable expert and laughed when the man agreed and said he also liked flowers.

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